Billeder på siden
PDF
ePub

freely given to them. The meaning is not merely, that they give no equivalent, meritorious of the benefits they receive. Adam could not have done that though he had continued in obedience. The obedient angels did it not; but they gave perfect obedience. What they gave, we are taught ihe believer receives, perfect obedience, Rom. v. 17, 19. the gift of righteousness. He is indispensably obliged to personal sincere obedience, but it is not merely a duty; it is a gift, the gift of the Spirit. No gift can be more freely offered than when it is offered to as many as will receive it. This is the case here, John i. 12. Faith is called a receiving Christ; it receives his righteousness and strength or Spirit, Isa. xlv. 22. : yet this receiving itself, this faith, is expressly called the gift of God. So that these three gifts, the gift of righteousness, of the Spirit, and of faith, prove abundantly that all things are given freely.

3dly, We are to consider, in the next place, the ground of the connexion between that great gift of the Son of God, and all others. The connexion is supposed to be so evident, that (as is usual in the like cases) the apostle chooses rather to expres it by a question, than a positive assertion. There seems to be a twofold connexion in this case taught in the Scripture, the one relating to God's justice and faithfulness, the other to his goodness. Thus, as to the first, we are told that God is just to justify the sinner who believes in Christ, Rom. iii. 26. The promise of all things is made to faith. There is an intrinsic value in the pearl of price, or the object of faith, to purchase all things. But it is plain the a. postle is not speaking of the connexion between our believing in Christ, and our receiving all things, but between God's giving so great a gift, and his giving all others. So that the connexion here meant relates to goodness, and is the connexion between a great favour or act of goodness, and a less, which though it lays no obligation on the giver, gives reasonable ground of hope to the receiver. Thus, if a man expose

his

life for us, we may be sure of any less favour which we need, and which he can spare. There is a great and obvious difference between the bounty of God and that of man. If a man give all things, he will have nothing himself; but God who gives all things can receive nothing, and can lose nothing. So that after he hath given the greatest favour, we may expect any other that we need, or that he can spare, and he can spare all that we need. After giving up his Son to justice, he may justly give us all things. And the apostle's meaning is, that after that gift, the believer who has an interest in it, may freely indulge the greatest and largest hopes, and may expect every other gift from God till be happen to think of a greater gift than his Son.

The connexion therefore between this favour and all others, is founded on its transcendency above all other; so that we may observe these two doctrines in the text. First, That the Son of God is his chief gift. Secondly, That this gift may give a believer assurance of all others. As to the first, (which is to be the subject of the ensuing discourse, and mostsuitable to the present occasion), it is not needful to insist much in shewing how evidently it is contained. in the text and other Seriptures, when it is plainfrom the whole tenor of the Scriptures, that there is a transcendency and pre-eminence of mercy in this manifestation of God's glory beyond all others. Only we may observe, that this transcendency is necessarily supposed in the connexion between giving Christ, and giving all things, whether that connexion be thought to relate to divine justice or goodness. For as to justice, if there be an intrinsic value in Christ's merit, the gift of righteousness mentioned, Rom. v. 17. that gift itself must be the greatest of all : And as to goodness, it is plain a less favour does not assure us of a greater ; but a greater does of a less. And if there were any mercy, or any gift, greater or equal to Christ, then, instead of the apostle's question, it would be natural and reasonable to form this other question, Though God has given bis Son, shall we be sure of such and such other favours ? The transcen. dency therefore of this gift above all others, is as evi. dent as the connexion between it and them: or, if there is any difference, it is the more evident of the two, the latter being an inference from the former. Now the apostle supposes that connexion not only to be certain in itself, but so evident and manifest to any believer who considers it, that as it would be the greatest absurdity to deny or doubt of it, so he mentions it as a truth which in a manner it would be sus perfluous to affirm.

But the transcendency which founds the connexion, however certain and evident in itself, is not so evi. dent, or at least does not make such an impression on the greater part of professing Christians now, as to make it superfluous either to assert or inculcate it with all arguments possible ; otherwise there would not be such a bias against it, as may be frequently observed in men's discourse and their writings on religion, where, if any other objects of spiritual meditation, any other motives to obey God, and to hate sin, can be thought of, they are sure to have the preeminence; and this great object, this chief motive, is either treated as if not worth mentioning at all, or at least only by the by.

In discoursing on this doctrine, of the transcendency of the work of redemption above all other mercies, it will be proper to consider, first, some of the principal and most edifying truths included in it; and then, secondly, to shew wherein the transcendency consists.

First, One remarkable truth included in the doctrine, is, the necessity of Christ's sacrifice for our salvation. This is included both in the transcendency of the gift, and the relation of the gift to the giver. 1. As to its transcendency, it is plain, it would not be the greatest gift were it an unnecessary one, and might be wanted. And as to the relation between the giver and the gift, we may be sure a good father always spares his own son, (except where there is some necessity for doing otherwise,) and will not deliver him up to death needlessly. We are not so to understand this necessity, as if God had been obliged to deliver up his Son, either as to his justice, or for the glory of his goodness. It would be a strange government where the sovereign would be obliged, either in justice, or even for the honour and reputation of his mercy, to deliver every malefactor. if God had been obliged in justice to deliver us from our sin and its punishment, there would have been no necessity of a sacrifice to his justice for our sins. When we read therefore the Redeemer's expression in his agony, If it was possible the cup should pass from him, we are not to understand it as if there was any appearance of impossibility in its passing from him, absolutely considered ; it was very possible, and very easy, that it should wholly pass from him. The meaning seems to be, if it was possible it might pass from him without passing to us, which he had a still greater aversion to, than to drinking of it himself.

The necessity therefore to be understood in this case, is not the necessity of that sacrifice absolutely to the glory of God's justice or goodness, but to our relief, to declare his righteousness in the remission of sins, Rom. iii. 25. So that, as Caiaphas expressed it without understanding it, it was needful one should die that the whole people might not be destroyed, though it was not in itself necessary that one person should shew so much mercy to prevent that destruction.

It would be too long to consider here all the objections made against our need of that sacrifice. An impartial consideration of them might easily shew, that they flow from ignorance of the nature of God's justice, and our sin. When such an objection occurs to any of us, How can my sin have so much evil in it as to require mine own personal punishment, or so great an atonement for me ? we should reflect, that to let disobedience pass unpunished is to dispense with the law that governs God's universal, everlasting kingdom ; and that the same reason that would hold for dispensing with it in favour of any one of us, would hold good for dispensing with it as to any other, or all God's other subjects; and consequently, (since time and place can make no difference here) for tolerating universal eternal wickedness, confusion and disorder; and then where would be the use or end of the. world or the law ?

2. But not to insist on this, in the next place, another important truth included in the doctrine is, That the chief mercy in the work of redemption was, not merely Christ's coming to teach us our duty, which he could do by others, but to purge our sins, which could be done only by himself, Heb. i. 3.

3. That in consideriog the love of Christ, we are obliged to consider the love of the Father, the first original of all good. And surely it is one design of our baptism in the name of the Father, Son and Spirit, to bind and oblige us to a devout acknowledgment of what each of these adorable persons does in our redemption ; to bless the Father who spared not the Son, and the Son who spared not himself, and the Spirit who applies the purchase. So it is no small encouragement, in approaching God by Christ, to reflect, that we approach him by a Mediator of his own sending and anointing, one chosen of God and precious.

4. But the truth contained in the doctrine, which especially deserves our careful attention is this, that the Redeemer is not a mere creature, but a divine person. For surely the way the Scriptures, and particularly this text, speaks of the Redeemer's peculiar relation to God the Father as being his own Son, and of the transcendency of this gift above all others, is such, as the more it were considered would appear the more unintelligible, if the Redeemer were supposed to be a mere creature. And this is at least a very strong additional evidence to the full and complete proofs of Christ's divinity drawn from the divine names,

L

« ForrigeFortsæt »